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    Your Tuesday Briefing: Kenya’s Next President?

    Plus reports of Russian torture of Ukrainian prisoners and a longer sentence for Aung San Suu Kyi.Good morning. We’re covering uncertain election results in Kenya and a possible prisoner swap between Russia and the U.S.Supporters of William Ruto celebrated yesterday, despite uncertainty.Simon Maina/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesA new Kenyan president?Kenya’s vice president, William Ruto, won the country’s presidential election, the head of the electoral commission said yesterday. The result came days after a cliffhanger vote.Ruto gained 50.5 percent of the vote, narrowly defeating Raila Odinga, a former prime minister, said a top official. That percentage is enough to avert a runoff vote, but a majority of election commissioners refused to verify the results. Here are live updates.An official, speaking on behalf of four of the seven electors, said the panel could not take ownership of the results because of the “opaque nature” of the election’s handling. Kenyan law allows for an election result to be challenged within one week — a prospect that many observers viewed as a near certainty.Profile: Ruto, who grew up poor and became a wealthy businessman, appealed to “hustlers” — underemployed youth striving to better themselves.Analysis: Kenya is East Africa’s biggest economy and is pivotal to trade and regional stability. The vote is being closely scrutinized as a key test for democracy in the country, which has a history of troubled elections. Rising prices, corruption and drought were top issues for voters.“He is very thin in the photo,” Darya Shepets, 19, said of her detained brother, pictured.Mauricio Lima for The New York TimesUkrainians share detention storiesHundreds of Ukrainian civilians, mainly men, have gone missing in the five months of the war in Ukraine.They have been detained by Russian troops or their proxies and held with little food in basements, police stations and filtration camps in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine. Many said they had suffered beatings and sometimes electrical shocks, though Russia has denied torturing or killing Ukrainian civilians. The U.N. says hundreds have disappeared into Russian jails.One 37-year-old auto mechanic, Vasiliy, was seized by Russian soldiers when he was walking in his home village with his wife and a neighbor. That was the beginning of six weeks of “hell,” he said.Shunted from one place of detention to another, he was beaten and repeatedly subjected to electrical shocks under interrogation, with little understanding of where he was or why he was being held. “It was shaming, maddening, but I came out alive,” he said. “It could have been worse. Some people were shot.”Prisoners: Brittney Griner, the U.S. basketball star, appealed her conviction. A senior Russian diplomat spoke of a possible prisoner swap.Fighting: Russia has been firing shells from near a nuclear plant in an effort to thwart a Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson. The move has added to fears of a nuclear accident and has blunted Ukraine’s progress. Here are live updates.Economy: Ukrainian factories are moving west, away from Russian bombs, causing a land rush.Aung San Suu Kyi was forced from power and placed under house arrest in February 2021, after the military took control. Aung Shine Oo/Associated PressAung San Suu Kyi faces 17 yearsA military-appointed court in Myanmar convicted Aung San Suu Kyi on new corruption charges yesterday.The verdict adds six years to the ousted civilian leader’s imprisonment — she is already serving 11 years on half a dozen counts — for a total of 17 years. Still ahead are trials on nine more charges with a potential maximum sentence of 122 years. At 77, the Nobel Peace laureate and onetime democracy icon has spent 17 of the past 33 years in detention, mainly under house arrest.Yesterday’s charges centered on land and construction deals related to an organization she ran until her arrest. Defenders say they are trumped up to silence her. In recent weeks, a Japanese journalist and two well-known models have also been detained.Conditions: Aung San Suu Kyi is kept by herself in a cell measuring about 200 square feet (about 18 square meters). Daytime temperatures can surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 38 Celsius), but there is no air conditioning.Context: An estimated 12,000 people are in detention for opposing military rule. Many have been tortured or sentenced in brief trials without lawyers. Last month, the junta hanged four pro-democracy activists. It has promised more executions.THE LATEST NEWSAsiaChina recently deployed its largest-ever military exercises to intimidate Taiwan and its supporters.Aly Song/ReutersBeijing announced new drills around Taiwan yesterday after U.S. lawmakers visited. It is also laying out a forceful vision of unification.Oil prices fell to their lowest level in months yesterday, after signs emerged that China’s economy was faltering.As coronavirus fears and restrictions receded, Japan’s economy began to grow again.Bangladesh raised fuel prices more than 50 percent in a week, the BBC reports. Thousands protested.Shoppers tried to escape an Ikea store in Shanghai on Saturday as authorities tried to quarantine them, the BBC reports.The PacificAnthony Albanese, Australia’s prime minister, said he would investigate reports that his predecessor, Scott Morrison, secretly held three ministerial roles, the BBC reports.The government of the Solomon Islands is seeking to delay its national elections from May 2023 to the end of December that year, The Guardian reports.Australia found a red panda that had escaped from the Adelaide Zoo, The A.P. reports.World NewsOf 41 people who died in a fire at a Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo, 18 were children. Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s former adviser, has been told that he is a target of the criminal investigation in Georgia into election interference.Iran blamed Salman Rushdie for the attack on his life, but denied any involvement. In 1989, Iran’s leader ordered Muslims to kill the author.U.K. regulators approved a Moderna Covid-19 booster, making Britain the first country to authorize a shot that targets both the original virus and the Omicron variant.The last French military units pulled out of Mali yesterday after a major fallout with authorities.A Morning ReadIllustration by The New York TimesWorker productivity tools, once common in lower-paying jobs, are spreading to more white-collar roles.Companies say the monitoring tools can yield efficiency and accountability. But in interviews with The Times, workers describe being tracked as “demoralizing,” “humiliating” and “toxic.”ARTS AND IDEASA look back at partitionIndia became independent from Britain 75 years ago yesterday. But trouble was already afoot. Britain had haphazardly left the subcontinent after nearly three centuries of colonial rule and had divided the land into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan.The bloody partition caused one of the biggest migrations in history, as once-mixed communities rushed in opposite directions to new homelands. As many as 20 million people fled communal violence. Up to two million people were killed.Now, 75 years later, nationalist fervor and mutual suspicion have hardened into rigid divisions. Despite a vast shared heritage, India and Pakistan remain estranged, their guns fixed on each other and diplomatic ties all but nonexistent.Visual history: Here are historical photos of the schism.Connection: A YouTube channel based in Pakistan has reunited relatives separated by the partition.PLAY, WATCH, EATWhat to CookDavid Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich.Try this broth-first, vegetarian take on a traditional cassoulet.What to WatchHere are five action movies to stream.World Through a LensStephen Hiltner, a Times journalist, lived in Budapest as a child. He just spent three months relearning Hungary’s defiant capital.Now Time to PlayPlay today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Word with four vowels in line, appropriately” (five letters).Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.You can find all our puzzles here.That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — AmeliaP.S. Have you had a frustrating airline experience? “The Daily” wants to know.The latest episode of “The Daily” is about a U.S. tax loophole.You can reach Amelia and the team at briefing@nytimes.com. More

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    Your Monday Briefing: U.S. Lawmakers Visit Taiwan

    Plus Salman Rushdie’s recovery and reflections on a year of Taliban rule.Good morning. We’re covering a visit by U.S. lawmakers to Taiwan and Salman Rushdie’s road to recovery.In this photo from the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a diplomat from the ministry greeted the U.S. delegation. Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via Associated PressMore U.S. lawmakers visit TaiwanA delegation of five U.S. lawmakers arrived in Taiwan yesterday. Their visit came less than two weeks after a contentious trip by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, which infuriated Beijing and provoked Chinese military drills off Taiwan’s coast.Taiwanese officials said they appreciated the U.S. show of solidarity during the escalating tensions with Beijing. The U.S. delegation planned to meet today with Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president, and consult with the foreign affairs and national defense committees of Taiwan’s legislature, Taiwan said.China had no immediate response, but the presence of the five U.S. lawmakers so soon after Pelosi’s visit was likely to elicit a sharp reaction and possibly inspire more military exercises, analysts said. Context: After Pelosi’s visit, Beijing fired five missiles into waters that are part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, a warning to Japan and to the U.S. about coming to Taiwan’s aid in the event of a conflict there. Last week, China wrapped up live-fire exercises that encircled the island and simulated a blockade. But Taiwan appeared undeterred, and China went easy on its economy.“It will be long, the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction,” Salman Rushdie’s agent said in a text to The Times.Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York TimesSalman Rushdie is recoveringAfter Salman Rushdie was stabbed roughly 10 times on Friday during a speech, “the road to recovery has begun,” his agent said yesterday. Rushdie was taken off a ventilator and could speak a few words. A 24-year-old man was charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon. Prosecutors said the attack was premeditated and targeted.Rushdie has been living relatively openly after years of a semi-clandestine existence that followed the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses,” which fictionalized parts of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. In 1989, about six months after the book came out, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then the leader of Iran, issued an edict known as a fatwa that ordered Muslims to kill Rushdie.Details: Because of the attack, the author may lose an eye, has a damaged liver and has severed nerves in his arm, his agent said.Our Coverage of the Russia-Ukraine WarOn the Ground: A series of explosions that Ukraine took credit for rocked a key Russian air base in Kremlin-occupied Crimea. Russia played down the extent of the damage, but the evidence available told a different story.Heavy Losses: The staggeringly high rate of Russian casualties in the war means that Moscow may not be able to achieve one of his key objectives: seizing the entire eastern region of Ukraine.Nuclear Shelter: The Russian military is using а nuclear power station in southern Ukraine as a fortress, as fighting intensifies in the region. The risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident has led the United Nations to sound the alarm and plead for access to the site to assess the situation.Starting Over: Ukrainians forced from their hometowns by Russia’s invasion find some solace, and success setting up businesses in new cities.Background: In 1991, the Japanese translator of “The Satanic Verses” was fatally stabbed. The crime remains unsolved. The novel’s Italian translator, its Norwegian publisher and a Turkish novelist who published an excerpt all survived attempts on their lives.Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, on the day the country’s government collapsed in August 2021.Jim Huylebroek for The New York TimesA year of Taliban ruleA year into Taliban rule, Afghanistan has seemed to hurtle backward in time, my colleagues write in an analysis. For many Afghans — particularly women in cities — the sense of loss has been devastating.Two decades of U.S.-financed reforms have been reversed by mounting restrictions on daily life, enforced by police-state tactics like door-to-door searches and arbitrary arrests. Schools and jobs are again restricted for women. Music has been banned, and beards are mandatory for men — an echo of the Taliban’s first rule in the 1990s.“Now it’s gone — all of it,” said Zakia Zahadat, 24, who used to work in a government ministry after she earned a college degree. She is mostly confined to her home these days, she said. “We have lost the power to choose what we want.”International isolation is exacerbating Afghanistan’s economic and humanitarian crisis, which may deepen after U.S. officials accused the Taliban of harboring the leader of Al Qaeda this month. But the country has been better off in one way: It is largely at peace after decades of war that upended the lives of rural Afghans in particular.Background: Here are photos from the Taliban’s offensive last year, with context and reflections from our Kabul bureau chief.Profiles: A group of Afghan employees from our Kabul bureau are adjusting after their evacuation to the U.S. Their new lives are challenging but full of opportunities.THE LATEST NEWSAsia PacificPolice spoke with witnesses at the airport in Canberra, Australia. Mass shootings are extremely rare in the country.Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesA gunman fired several shots inside Canberra Airport yesterday, grounding flights in Australia’s capital city. No injuries were reported.Five state-run Chinese companies, collectively worth hundreds of billions of dollars, will delist from U.S. stock exchanges amid diplomatic tensions.The Times looked at how Sri Lankans ousted the Rajapaksa family.The War in UkraineHere are live updates.Ukrainians who live near a nuclear power plant were trying to flee because of intensifying fighting in the area.David Guttenfelder for The New York TimesFears of a nuclear accident are rising at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine, as Russian shelling continues nearby. An employee died after shells struck his home, and the West called for a demilitarized zone around the plant.Ukrainians, armed with new long-range weapons from the West, are striking deep behind Russia’s lines of defense.U.S. officials said that Russia was suffering heavy casualties in Ukraine, which could foil its plans to seize the entire eastern region this year.Amid sanctions, Russia’s gross domestic product fell 4 percent from April through June compared with last year.World NewsA fire in Egypt set off a stampede and killed at least 41 people, including several children and the church’s bishop.Tarek Wajeh/Associated PressAt least 41 people were killed after a fire broke out in an Egyptian Coptic Orthodox church in greater Cairo yesterday.At least eight people were injured in a shooting in Jerusalem early yesterday. Israeli authorities described the incident as a terrorist attack.Kenyans are still waiting for results from a presidential election last week. “People are so tense that they cannot even think straight,” a hospital nurse said.Norway killed Freya, a walrus who had spent weeks lounging on Oslo’s piers. Officials said she became a threat to human safety and moving her was “too high risk.”U.S. NewsPresident Biden is poised to sign landmark legislation that will lower the cost of prescription drugs, extend health care subsidies and put billions of dollars toward climate and energy programs.A lawyer for Donald Trump told investigators in June that all classified material at his Mar-a-Lago residence had been returned. But last week’s search turned up more.Officials are growing concerned that TikTok, and other Chinese-owned apps, could leak Americans’ data to Beijing. And election misinformation is thriving on the app before the midterms.Some Asian American voters feel overlooked by Democrats despite the group’s growing electoral power.A Morning ReadAnime idealizes intimacy and romance, but tends to be notably coy in its depictions of physical encounters.A hug, therefore, has thus taken on symbolic importance, Maya Phillips writes in a video-filled essay. It often is a different kind of consummation, especially when characters embrace as they fall through the air.ARTS AND IDEASPark Ok-sun, 98, at the House of Sharing in Gwangju, South Korea.Woohae Cho for The New York TimesThe fate of the “comfort women”The photographer Tsukasa Yajima, known for his stark, poignant portraits of the former sex slaves for Japan’s soldiers in World War II, has won praise for blowing the whistle on South Korea’s treatment of “comfort women.” But it has also come at a cost.Recently, he exposed subpar conditions at South Korea’s best-known shelter for those survivors, the House of Sharing, where he runs its international outreach program. Along with South Korean employees, Yajima exposed how donations meant for survivors’ welfare were enriching South Korea’s biggest ​and most powerful ​Buddhist order, Jogye.An investigation by a joint panel of government officials and civilian experts confirmed most of the whistle-blowers’ ​accusations and more, and it lead to criminal indictments. Angry donors have sued ​the House of Sharing.Yajima, a Japanese national, has borne the brunt of a backlash from past and present shelter employees. The whistle-blowers face dozens of defamation​ and other lawsuits; four of them quit last month, complaining about harassment. But Yajima has insisted on staying on​.PLAY, WATCH, EATWhat to CookChris Simpson for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Sophia Pappas.Yotam Ottolenghi has made thousands of meringues. This pavlova is his favorite.RecommendationTo stay cool with style, use an Ankara hand fan.What to Read“On Java Road,” a new thriller by Lawrence Osborne, chronicles a mysterious disappearance amid Hong Kong protests.Now Time to PlayPlay today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Brain fart” (five letters).Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.You can find all our puzzles here.That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — AmeliaP.S. The National Association of Black Journalists gave Dean Baquet, The Times’s former executive editor, its lifetime achievement award.The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.You can reach Amelia and the team at briefing@nytimes.com. More

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    Will the F.B.I.’s Mar-a-Lago Raid Help Re-Elect Trump?

    Why is Donald Trump so powerful? How did he come to dominate one of the two major parties and get himself elected president? Is it his hair? His waistline? No, it’s his narratives. Trump tells powerful stories that ring true to tens of millions of Americans.The main one is that America is being ruined by corrupt coastal elites. According to this narrative, there is an interlocking network of highly educated Americans who make up what the Trumpians have come to call the Regime: Washington power players, liberal media, big foundations, elite universities, woke corporations. These people are corrupt, condescending and immoral and are looking out only for themselves. They are out to get Trump because Trump is the person who stands up to them. They are not only out to get Trump; they are out to get you.This narrative has a core of truth to it. Highly educated metropolitan elites have become something of a self-enclosed Brahmin class. But the Trumpian propaganda turns what is an unfortunate social chasm into venomous conspiracy theory. It simply assumes, against a lot of evidence, that the leading institutions of society are inherently corrupt, malevolent and partisan and are acting in bad faith.It simply assumes that the proof of people’s virtue is that they’re getting attacked by the Regime. Trump’s political career has been kept afloat by elite scorn. The more elites scorn him, the more Republicans love him. The key criterion for leadership in the Republican Party today is having the right enemies.Into this situation walks the F.B.I. There’s a lot we don’t know about the search at Mar-a-Lago. But we do know how the Republican Party reacted. The right side of my Twitter feed was ecstatic. See! We really are persecuted! Essays began to appear with titles like “The Regime Wants Its Revenge.” Ron DeSantis tweeted, “The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents.” As usual, the tone was apocalyptic. “This is the worst attack on this Republic in modern history,” the Fox News host Mark Levin exclaimed.The investigation into Trump was seen purely as a heinous Regime plot. At least for now, the search has shaken the Republican political landscape. Several weeks ago, about half of Republican voters were ready to move on from Trump, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. This week the entire party seemed to rally behind him. Republican strategists advising Trump’s potential primary opponents had reason to be despondent. “Completely handed him a lifeline,” one such strategist told Politico. “Unbelievable … It put everybody in the wagon for Trump again. It’s just taken the wind out of everybody’s sails.”According to a Trafalgar Group/Convention of States Action survey, 83 percent of likely Republican voters said the F.B.I. search made them more motivated to vote in the 2022 elections. Over 75 percent of likely Republican voters believed Trump’s political enemies were behind the search rather than the impartial justice system, as did 48 percent of likely general election voters overall.In a normal society, when politicians get investigated or charged, it hurts them politically. But that no longer applies to the G.O.P. The judicial system may be colliding with the political system in an unprecedented way.What happens if a prosecutor charges Trump and he is convicted just as he is cruising to the G.O.P. nomination or maybe even the presidency? What happens if the legal system, using its criteria, decides Trump should go to prison at the very moment that the electoral system, using its criteria, decides he should go to the White House?I presume in those circumstances Trump would be arrested and imprisoned. I also presume we would see widespread political violence from incensed Trump voters who would conclude that the Regime has stolen the country. In my view, this is the most likely path to a complete democratic breakdown.In theory, justice is blind, and obviously no person can be above the law. But as Damon Linker wrote in a Substack post, “This is a polity, not a graduate seminar in Kantian ethics.” We live in a specific real-world situation, and we all have to take responsibility for the real-world effects of our actions.America absolutely needs to punish those who commit crimes. On the other hand, America absolutely needs to make sure that Trump does not get another term as president. What do we do if the former makes the latter more likely? I have no clue how to get out of this potential conflict between our legal and political realities.We’re living in a crisis of legitimacy, during which distrust of established power is so virulent that actions by elite actors tend to backfire, no matter how well founded they are.My impression is that the F.B.I. had legitimate reasons to do what it did. My guess is it will find some damning documents that will do nothing to weaken Trump’s support. I’m also convinced that, at least for now, it has unintentionally improved Trump’s re-election chances. It has unintentionally made life harder for Trump’s potential primary challengers and motivated his base.It feels as though we’re walking toward some sort of storm and there’s no honorable way to alter our course.The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. More

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    Your Friday Briefing: U.S. to Unseal Trump Warrant

    Plus Russia prepares for show trials and Taiwan does not rise to China’s provocations.Good morning. We’re covering moves by the U.S. to unseal the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, Russia’s preparation for possible show trials and Taiwan’s undeterred diplomacy.Attorney General Merrick Garland had come under pressure to provide more information about the search at former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesU.S. to unseal the Trump warrantMerrick Garland, the U.S. attorney general, moved to unseal the warrant authorizing the F.B.I. search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s residence in Florida. Garland said he personally approved the decision to seek the warrant.Garland’s statement followed revelations that Trump received a subpoena for documents this spring, months before the F.B.I. search on Monday. It also came a day after Trump asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he was questioned by New York’s attorney general in a civil case about his business practices.The subpoena suggests the Justice Department tried methods short of a search warrant to account for the material before taking the politically explosive step of sending F.B.I. agents, unannounced, to the former president’s doorstep. Here are live updates.Details: Officials think the former president improperly took documents with him after leaving office. The Justice Department has provided no information about the precise nature of the material it has been seeking to recover, but it has signaled that the material involved classified information of a sensitive nature.Analysis: Garland’s decision to make a public appearance came at an extraordinary moment in the department’s 152-year history, as the sprawling investigation of a former president who remains a powerful political force gains momentum. After coming under pressure, Garland said he decided to go public to serve the “public interest.”The Mariupol Chamber Philharmonic will be used for upcoming show trials of Ukrainian soldiers. Associated PressRussia readies for likely show trialsRussia has installed cages in a large Mariupol theater, an apparent preparation for show trials of captured Ukrainian soldiers on newly occupied soil. The trials could begin on Aug. 24, Ukrainian Independence Day.Some fear that the Kremlin plans to use the trappings of legal proceedings to reinforce its narrative about fighters who defended the southern Ukrainian city and spent weeks underneath a steel plant. Ukrainian officials have called for international intervention.Moscow may also use the trials to deflect responsibility for atrocities Russia committed as its forces laid siege to Mariupol. The Kremlin has a long and brutal history of using such trials to give a veneer of credibility to efforts to silence critics. Here are live updates.Our Coverage of the Russia-Ukraine WarOn the Ground: A series of explosions that Ukraine took credit for rocked a key Russian air base in Kremlin-occupied Crimea. Russia played down the extent of the damage, but the evidence available told a different story.Drones: To counter Russia’s advantage in artillery and tanks, Ukraine has seized on drone warfare and produced an array of inexpensive, plastic aircraft rigged to drop grenades or other munitions.Nuclear Shelter: The Russian military is using а nuclear power station in southern Ukraine as a fortress, stymying Ukrainian forces and unnerving locals, faced with intensifying fighting and the threat of a radiation leak.Starting Over: Ukrainians forced from their hometowns by Russia’s invasion find some solace, and success setting up businesses in new cities.Context: Concerns for prisoners’ safety have only grown since last month, when the Ukrainian authorities accused Moscow of orchestrating an explosion at a Russian prison camp that killed at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war.Other updates:Satellite images show that Russia lost at least eight warplanes in a Tuesday explosion at a Crimean air base.New shelling at a Russian-occupied nuclear plant in southern Ukraine added to concerns of possible disaster.Turkey needs Russian cash and gas ahead of an election. Russia needs friends to evade sanctions. The country’s leaders have a wary, mutually beneficial rapport.Taiwanese soldiers conducted a live-fire drill earlier this week. Lam Yik Fei for The New York TimesChina’s drills did not deter TaiwanChina’s continuing military drills have not deterred Taiwan, my colleagues write in an analysis.In fact, the drills have hardened the self-ruled island’s belief in the value of its diplomatic, economic and military maneuverings to stake out a middle ground in the big-power standoff between Beijing and Washington.Under Tsai Ing-wen, the current president, Taiwanese officials have quietly courted the U.S., making gains with weapon sales and vows of support. They have also turned China’s bluster into a growing international awareness about the island’s plight.But Taiwan has held back from flaunting that success in an effort to avoid outbursts from China. When Beijing recently sent dozens of fighters across the water that separates China and Taiwan, the Taiwanese military said it would not escalate and took relatively soft countermeasures. Officials offered sober statements and welcomed support from the Group of 7 nations.What’s next: American officials have considered stockpiling arms in Taiwan out of concern that it might be tough to supply the island in the event of a Chinese military blockade.THE LATEST NEWSAsiaAn undated North Korean state media photograph showed Kim Jong-un attending a meeting about Covid-19.Korean Central News Agency, via ReutersKim Jong-un declared “victory” over North Korea’s coronavirus outbreak, despite a lack of vaccines, state news reported.Hong Kong suffered a record 1.6 percent population decline over the past 12 months, the South China Morning Post reports.A new animal-derived virus, Langya henipavirus, has infected at least 35 people in China’s eastern Shandong and Henan provinces, the BBC reports.Seoul announced a ban on underground homes after people drowned during recent flooding, The Korea Herald reports.The PacificOlivia Newton-John will receive a state memorial service in Australia, CNN reports.New Zealand’s tourism minister dismissed budget travelers and said the country planned to focus on attracting “high quality,” “big spender” visitors, The Guardian reports.World NewsAfter peaking in June, the lower price of gas is a welcome change for drivers.Gabby Jones for The New York TimesU.S. gas prices fell below $4 a gallon yesterday, back to where they were in March.The Arctic is warming four times faster than the global average, not the commonly reported two to three times, researchers said.The W.H.O. warned people to not blame monkeys for monkeypox after a report that animals were harmed in Brazil amid fear of transmission.Wildfires are again ripping through France, weeks after the last heat wave.A Morning ReadSo-called carbon farming has become a key element of New Zealand’s drive to be carbon neutral by 2050.Fiona Goodall/Getty ImagesNew Zealand put a growing price on greenhouse emissions. But the plan may be threatening its iconic farmland: Forestry investors are rushing to buy up pastures to plant carbon-sucking trees.ARTS AND IDEASSelling democracy to AfricaThe U.S. unveiled a new Africa policy this week that leaned on a familiar strategy, promoting democracy. The challenge will come in selling it to a changing continent.“Too often, African nations have been treated as instruments of other nations’ progress rather than the authors of their own,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said as he presented the new U.S. approach during a tour that included South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.The U.S. “will not dictate Africa’s choices,” he added, in an apparent response to criticism that America’s stance toward Africa can be patronizing, if not insulting. “I think, given history, the approach has to be somewhat different, and I would recommend a greater attention to tools that Africans have developed,” said Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s foreign minister.Along with their own tools and institutions, like the African Union, more African states are wealthier than they were a generation ago, Bob Wekesa, the deputy director of the African Center for the Study of the United States in Johannesburg, said.“They can afford to say, ‘We can choose who to deal with on certain issues,’” Wekesa said. Those new partnerships include not only U.S. rivals Russia and China, but also emerging powers like Turkey and India. Traditional U.S. allies like Botswana and Zambia are likely to embrace the American strategy, but strongman leaders in Uganda and even Rwanda are likely to be more resistant, he added.In Kigali yesterday, Blinken said that he had urged the leaders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to end their support for militias in eastern Congo. He also raised concerns about the detention of the U.S. resident who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” Paul Rusesabagina.But just hours before his meeting with Blinken, President Paul Kagame poured cold water over suggestions that he would be swayed on the Rusesabagina case. “No worries … there are things that just don’t work like that here!!” he said on Twitter. — Lynsey Chutel, Briefings writer based in Johannesburg.PLAY, WATCH, EATWhat to CookChristopher Testani for The New York TimesCaramelized brown sugar adds complexity to this berry upside-down cake.What to Watch“Inu-oh” is a visually sumptuous anime film about a 14th-century Japanese performer.TravelRetirees are taking on part-time work loading baggage at airports or passing out towels to make their way through Europe on the cheap.Now Time to PlayPlay today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Crucial” (three letters).Here are today’s Wordle and Spelling Bee.You can find all our puzzles here.That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — AmeliaP.S. The Times will bring back its Food Festival for the first time since 2019. Mark your calendars: Oct. 8, in New York City.The latest episode of “The Daily” is on abortion in the U.S.You can reach Amelia and the team at briefing@nytimes.com. More

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    Progressive Groups Push Democrats on ‘Freedom’ for Midterm Election Message

    For much of the midterm campaign, Democrats have grappled with how to define their message, weighing slogans like “Democrats deliver” and “Build back better,” and issuing warnings against “ultra-MAGA” Republicans.Now, a coalition of progressive organizations has settled on what its leaders hope will be a unified pitch from the left. This November, they plan to argue, Americans must vote to protect the fundamental freedoms that “Trump Republicans” are trying to take away.That pitch is the product of a monthslong midterms messaging project called the “Protect Our Freedoms” initiative, fueled by polling and ad testing.The move is the latest evidence that Democrats at every level of the party and of varying ideological stripes — including President Biden, abortion rights activists in Kansas and, now, a constellation of left-leaning groups — are increasingly seeking to reclaim language about freedom and personal liberty from Republicans. It is a dynamic that grew out of the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, and one that is intensifying as more states navigate abortion bans while Republicans nominate election deniers for high office.The messaging project is a sprawling effort from progressive groups, activists and strategists aimed at getting Democrats on the same page, as they seek to crystallize the choice between the two parties and emphasize the consequential nature of the midterm elections.“Freedom is a powerful frame for this election, to make clear what the stakes are,” said Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, an architect of the messaging project as well as a co-founder and vice president of Way to Win, a collective of left-leaning Democratic donors and political strategists.What is most striking about the initiative is not the initial size of the investment — there is a $5 million national paid-media component associated with the campaign, a relatively modest sum — but the fact that left-wing organizations are now embracing language that has been more closely associated with small-government-minded conservatives.“For far too long, we’ve witnessed how the right wing has masterfully sort of owned and captured the language of freedom,” said Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the Working Families Party, one of the organizations involved in the “Protect Our Freedoms” effort. Such language has never been limited to the right: former President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously promoted the “Four Freedoms,” for instance, and a major campaign for marriage equality was framed as Freedom to Marry. But Republicans have long cast their party as the bastion of freedom — whether as the defender of free markets or more recently, in opposition to coronavirus-related mandates.In a statement, Emma Vaughn, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, highlighted the effort to paint Democrats as anti-freedom over pandemic measures, calling them the party of “shuttered businesses, school lockdowns, masks on toddlers and forced vaccines.”Ads that draw from the “Protect Our Freedoms” messaging argue that core American values — such as free elections in which the will of the people is upheld, or freedom for individuals to make decisions for their families — are now uniquely jeopardized. Just last week, a group of academics issued stark warnings to Mr. Biden about the state of democracy, The Washington Post reported.An ad produced by Way To Win Action Fund suggests that Americans must vote to protect the fundamental freedoms that “Trump Republicans” are trying to take away.Way To Win Action Fund“We’ve seen what happens when Trump Republicans have claimed to be for freedom, only to take it away and impose their will,” says an ad paid for by Way to Win Action Fund, as images from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol flash across the screen. “This November, remember: You’re a part of the fight for freedom.”Ms. Fernandez Ancona said the national ad campaign offers “the example of the message that we’re trying to put forward,” one that leaders of the initiative hope will be echoed in grass-roots efforts and advertising from individual organizations.MoveOn Political Action is planning a television and digital ad buy for later this month, aimed at statewide races in Arizona and Pennsylvania, that will incorporate “Protect Our Freedoms” messaging, said Rahna Epting, the executive director of MoveOn. And officials with several organizations said the messaging lessons will mold how they engage voters at their doors or on the phone.Ten organizations were involved in the “Protect Our Freedoms” messaging initiative, including Indivisible and Future Forward.Within the broader Democratic ecosystem, candidates and party institutions are still pursuing a broad range of messaging tactics.But in an interview last week after Kansas voters defeated an anti-abortion measure, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of the House Democratic campaign arm, also reached for the “freedom” language as he described the choice between the two political parties.“The MAGA movement will take away your rights, your benefits, your freedoms, and you have to vote Democratic if you care about those things,” he said.Research assembled by the “Protect Our Freedoms” campaign helps explain why Democrats see such messaging as potent: A data point cited in a campaign presentation said that 42 percent of individuals, when asked in a survey to identify the values that mattered most to them as Americans, picked “freedom and liberty,” far outpacing other options like equality and and patriotism.The presentation also said that the overturning of Roe v. Wade had opened a “persuasion window,” putting more voters into play. Anat Shenker-Osorio, a progressive consultant involved in the messaging project, said there was a powerful opening to tie “actions on Roe and on abortion to this broader framework of taking away our freedoms.”Ms. Fernandez Ancona said that “the idea of ‘freedom’ really pops.”“People need to understand that they’re going to lose things if this Republican Party wins,” she added. More

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    Your Thursday Briefing: Trump Declines to Answer Questions

    Plus new details about explosions in Crimea and revelations about the victims of Seoul’s floods.Good morning. We’re covering Donald Trump’s decision not to answer questions in a civil inquiry and details about the victims of Seoul’s floods.Donald Trump left Trump Tower in New York City yesterday. Brittainy Newman for The New York TimesTrump sidesteps legal questionsDonald Trump declined to answer questions in a civil inquiry into his company’s business practices yesterday, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.He made the surprising gamble in a high-stakes legal interview with the New York attorney general’s office. His strategy is likely to determine the course of the investigation.Trump’s office released a statement shortly after the questioning began yesterday, explaining that he “declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.” Here are live updates.Background: Since March 2019, the New York attorney general’s office has investigated whether Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets. Context: In his statement yesterday, Trump cast the inquiry as part of a grander conspiracy against him. He linked it to the F.B.I. search at Mar-a-Lago, his home and private club in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday. Analysis: His sidestep could help him in a parallel criminal inquiry into whether he fraudulently inflated valuations of his properties.Smoke rose after explosions were heard near a Russian military air base in Crimea on Tuesday.ReutersDetails emerge about Crimea blastThe damage at a Russian air base in Crimea appears to be worse than the Kremlin initially claimed.After a series of explosions on Tuesday, Crimea’s leader declared a state of emergency and said that more than 250 people had to evacuate from their homes. Officials on the Russian-occupied peninsula said at least one person was killed and dozens more were wounded.Ukraine has not officially taken responsibility for the explosions. But a senior military official said Ukraine’s special forces and partisan resistance fighters were behind the blast. Here are live updates.Our Coverage of the Russia-Ukraine WarOn the Ground: After a summer of few conclusive battles, Ukraine and Russia are now facing a quandary over how to concentrate their forces, leaving commanders guessing about each other’s next moves.Nuclear Shelter: The Russian military is using а nuclear power station in southern Ukraine as a fortress, stymying Ukrainian forces and unnerving locals, faced with intensifying fighting and the threat of a radiation leak.Ukrainians Abroad: Italy already had the biggest Ukrainian community in Western Europe before the war, but Russia’s invasion put a spotlight on the diaspora and forged a stronger sense of national identity.Prison Camp Explosion: After a blast at a Russian detention camp killed at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war, Ukrainian officials said that they were building a case of a war crime committed by Russian forces.Analysis: The blasts could be important, because any Ukrainian attack on Russian forces in the Crimean Peninsula would be a significant expansion of Ukraine’s offensive efforts. Until now, Ukraine has focused on pushing Russians back from territories occupied after the invasion began.Nuclear plant: Russian missiles killed 13 people near a Russian-held nuclear plant in the south, a Ukrainian official said. Russia may try to divert its electricity to Crimea, which could intensify military competition for the plant and heighten the risk of an accident.Press: Russian investigators detained a former state television journalist yesterday, months after she staged a rare on-air protest against the war in Ukraine.Rescue officials pumped water out of this home in Seoul to find a family of three dead inside.Woohae Cho for The New York TimesSouth Korea mourns flood victimsHeavy rains caused flooding in the Seoul area, which killed at least nine people. A family of three, who lived in a semi-underground room, are among the dead: a 13-year-old girl, her mother, 47, and her aunt, 48.Their deaths highlight the predicament of South Korea’s urban poor, who often live in such homes, called banjiha. (“Parasite,” which won the Academy Award for Best Film ​in 2020, dramatically depicted their flood hazard.)South Korea faces a growing housing crisis and hundreds of thousands of people in the Seoul area live in similar damp, musty quarters. They fear floods each monsoon season, but stay to find jobs, save money and educate their children in hopes of overcoming South Korea’s growing inequality.Details: The family knew the low-lying district was prone to flooding. But it was cheap and close to a welfare center where the girl’s aunt, who had Down syndrome, could get help.Quotable: “When I returned home from work, I found my banjiha under water,” one resident wrote on the web portal Naver. “It felt as if heaven had crashed down on me.”THE LATEST NEWSAsia and the PacificA U.S. Navy ship conducting a routine operation in the Taiwan Strait.U.S. Pacific Command, via Associated PressThe U.S. said it would continue operating in the Taiwan Strait in response to Chinese military drills that U.S. officials say are evolving into long-term military pressure on the island.Fumio Kishida, Japan’s leader, reshuffled his cabinet yesterday, The Associated Press reported. The move, which happened a month after the assassination of Shinzo Abe, was an effort to distance his government from the controversial Unification Church.New polling showed that New Zealand’s right-leaning coalition could have enough support to form a government, The Guardian reported. Jacinda Ardern’s popularity has plummeted.The U.S. returned 30 looted cultural artifacts to Cambodia this week.U.S. NewsU.S. stocks jumped yesterday, following news that inflation slowed in July. Here are live updates.The Justice Department charged a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard with plotting to kill John Bolton, a Trump-era national security adviser.An Afghan immigrant was charged in the shooting deaths of two fellow Muslims in Albuquerque.President Biden signed legislation to expand benefits for veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits.World NewsAntony Blinken visited Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.Pool photo by Andrew HarnikAntony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, pushed the Democratic Republic of Congo to reconsider its plans to auction parts of its rainforest to oil and gas companies. The countries agreed to jointly examine the proposed extractions.The U.S. and Iran are considering the E.U.’s “final” offer to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, before talks collapse for good.Britain faces another heat wave.An Emirati court overturned the sentence of an American rights lawyer who worked with Jamal Khashoggi. He is expected to be released.What Else Is HappeningIn several poor countries, a U.N. agency has joined with oil companies to protect drilling sites from residents’ objections.Roughly 100 days before the World Cup starts, FIFA is seeking a schedule change to let Qatar, the host nation, play in the first match.A stranded beluga whale died in France after a last-ditch mission to rescue it from the Seine river.Astronomers think they have found our galaxy’s youngest planet: It may be just 1.5 million years old, so young that its building blocks of gas and dust are still coming together.Canadians are flocking to see Serena Williams play after she announced her upcoming retirement from tennis.A Morning ReadImee Marcos, a sister of the president of the Philippines, is the film’s executive producer.Jam Sta Rosa/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesFerdinand Marcos Jr. was elected president of the Philippines this year. Now, a new film paints a sympathetic portrait of his family. Instead of focusing on the torture, excess and martial law that characterized his father’s dictatorship, the film portrays the elder Marcos and his wife Imelda as victims of a political vendetta.In so doing, historians and artists say, the movie opens up a new front in the battle against misinformation in the Philippines, bringing a popular myth that circulated online during the recent election into a new, more credible domain.ARTS AND IDEASIn China’s Shandong Province, 558 memorial tablets at a Taoist temple were inscribed with the names and hometowns of people who died from Covid.Tingshu Wang/ReutersMourning Covid-19’s victimsThere have always been monuments to commemorate the loss of life from calamitous events: wars, genocides, terrorist attacks.But Covid-19 poses a unique challenge. Millions of people have died, but not in a singular event or in a single location. Now, as the death toll continues to rise, communities are building new monuments and updating existing memorials, trying to keep up with their mounting grief.“These are kind of odd memorials in that names are being added,” said Erika Doss, who studies how Americans use memorials. “They are kind of fluid. They are timeless.”PLAY, WATCH, EATWhat to CookBryan Gardner for The New York TimesDrizzle seasoned drippings from this grilled chicken dish onto corn, tomatoes and red onions.What to Watch“Easter Sunday,” from the standup Jo Koy, is a charming Filipino American family comedy.TechnologyChange these default settings to make your devices more enjoyable to use.Now Time to PlayPlay today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Deep purple fruit (four letters).Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.You can find all our puzzles here.That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — AmeliaP.S. “I let them talk”: Rick Rojas, a Times national correspondent, on how he covered the devastation of Kentucky’s floods.The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the F.B.I. search of Mar-a-Lago.You can reach Amelia and the team at briefing@nytimes.com. More

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    Which Primary Election Candidates Trump Endorsed So Far

    As the midterm primary season enters the homestretch, the candidates endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump continue to rack up primary wins.That is partly by design: Of the more than 200 Republicans Mr. Trump has endorsed this year, many ran unopposed or faced little-known, poorly funded opponents. He has also waited to make some endorsements until a clear front-runner has emerged, strategically picking the candidates most likely to win — take, for instance, his last-minute endorsement of Tudor Dixon in Michigan’s Republican primary for governor.But several of his endorsed candidates were defeated in early primaries, including notable losses in Georgia and North Carolina. For candidates like J.D. Vance in Ohio and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, however, Mr. Trump’s support was crucial to securing victory — and his preferred candidates have won in large numbers in the most recent races, including in two important swing states, Arizona and Michigan.Here is a look at Mr. Trump’s endorsement record.A sweep in ArizonaThe former local television news host Kari Lake won the Republican primary for governor with Mr. Trump’s endorsement, narrowly defeating Karrin Taylor Robson, who was the choice of establishment Republicans. Ms. Lake has forcefully promoted Mr. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who has pushed a version of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, won his Senate primary and will challenge Senator Mark Kelly, a vulnerable Democrat, in November.State Representative Mark Finchem, who is affiliated with the far-right Oath Keepers militia group and said before the primary that he would not concede if he lost, won the Republican nomination for secretary of state, a position in which he would be responsible for overseeing Arizona elections.And David Farnsworth, another Trump endorsee, won a State Senate primary against Rusty Bowers, the Arizona House speaker who drew Trump supporters’ fury for resisting efforts to overturn the 2020 election and for testifying before the Jan. 6 congressional committee.A pro-impeachment Republican lost in MichiganRepresentative Peter Meijer, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, lost his primary to a Trump-backed challenger, John Gibbs, in Michigan’s Third Congressional District.In Georgia, several losses and one victoryGov. Brian Kemp easily defeated former Senator David Perdue, Mr. Trump’s handpicked candidate, in the Republican primary for governor. Mr. Kemp became a Trump target after he refused to overturn the president’s loss in the state in 2020. He will face the Democratic nominee, Stacey Abrams, whom he narrowly defeated four years ago.Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who refused Mr. Trump’s demand to “find” additional votes after his 2020 loss, also defeated a Trump-endorsed challenger, Representative Jody Hice.More Coverage of the 2022 Midterm ElectionsClimate, Health and Tax Bill: The Senate’s passage of the legislation has Democrats sprinting to sell the package by November and experiencing a flicker of an unfamiliar feeling: hope.Kansas Abortion Vote: After a decisive victory for abortion rights in deep-red Kansas, Democrats vowed to elevate the issue nationwide, while some Republicans softened their stands against abortion.Wisconsin Primary: Former President Donald J. Trump’s supporters have turned the false notion that his 2020 defeat can still be reversed into a central issue ahead of the state’s G.O.P. primary for governor.Senate Races: The key question with less than 100 days until the fall election: Can Democratic candidates in crucial Senate contests continue to outpace President Biden’s unpopularity? Attorney General Chris Carr defeated John Gordon, a Trump-supported opponent, with more than 73 percent of the vote.In a primary runoff for an open seat in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, Rich McCormick, a physician and retired Marine, defeated the Trump-backed candidate Jake Evans, the former chairman of the state’s ethics commission and the son of a Trump administration ambassador.The former professional football star Herschel Walker, who was endorsed by Mr. Trump, dominated a Senate primary and will face Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat and prolific fund-raiser, in the general election.Victories in PennsylvaniaAfter a close race that prompted a recount, Mehmet Oz, Mr. Trump’s choice, won the state’s Senate primary, narrowly defeating David McCormick.Doug Mastriano, a state senator and retired Army colonel who has promoted false claims about the 2020 election and attended the protest leading up to the Capitol riot, won the Republican nomination for governor. Mr. Trump had endorsed him just a few days before the primary.Two wins and a loss in North CarolinaRepresentative Ted Budd won the Republican nomination for Senate, and Bo Hines, a 26-year-old political novice who enthralled Mr. Trump, was catapulted to victory in his primary for a House seat outside Raleigh.But Representative Madison Cawthorn crumbled under the weight of repeated scandals and blunders. He was ousted in his primary, a stinging rejection of a Trump-endorsed candidate. Voters chose Chuck Edwards, a state senator.A split in South Carolina House racesRepresentative Tom Rice, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, was ousted by his Trump-backed challenger, State Representative Russell Fry, in the Seventh Congressional District.But Representative Nancy Mace defeated her Trump-endorsed opponent, the former state lawmaker Katie Arrington, in the First Congressional District. Ms. Mace had said that Mr. Trump bore responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack, but did not vote to impeach him. She had support from Nikki Haley and Mick Mulvaney, who both held office in the state before working in the Trump administration.Election deniers win in NevadaAdam Laxalt won a Senate primary and will face the incumbent, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats this fall. Mr. Laxalt, a former attorney general, was endorsed by Mr. Trump and had helped lead his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Nevada.Joseph Lombardo, the Las Vegas sheriff, won the Republican nomination for governor and will face the incumbent, Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat.Victories in Illinois, with outside helpState Senator Darren Bailey, who got a last-minute endorsement from Mr. Trump, won the Republican primary for governor. Democratic spending, including by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, may have helped Mr. Bailey, whom Democrats saw as easier to beat in the general election.Representative Mary Miller, endorsed by Mr. Trump months ago, won her House primary against fellow Representative Rodney Davis after redistricting put them in the same district.Victories in OhioThe Senate candidate J.D. Vance defeated a field of well-funded rivals, nearly all of whom pitched themselves as Trump-like Republicans. Mr. Vance, an author and venture capitalist, had transformed himself from a self-described “never Trump guy” in 2016 to a Trump-supported “America First” candidate in 2022.Max Miller, a former Trump aide who denied assault allegations from an ex-girlfriend and was later endorsed by Mr. Trump, won his House primary.Mr. Trump also endorsed Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, a lawyer who had been a surrogate for his presidential campaign. She won a seven-way primary for a congressional seat.In Maryland, a win aided by DemocratsDan Cox, a first-term state legislator who embraced Mr. Trump’s lies about the 2020 election, handily defeated Kelly Schulz in the Republican primary for governor. Ms. Schulz was seen as a protégé of Gov. Larry Hogan, a leader of the party’s anti-Trump wing.Mr. Cox raised little money. But he benefited from more than $1.16 million in television advertising from the Democratic Governors Association, which helped his primary campaign in hopes that he would be easier to defeat in the general election.A loss in NebraskaCharles W. Herbster, a wealthy agribusiness executive, lost his three-way primary for governor to Jim Pillen, a University of Nebraska regent supported by Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has long clashed with Mr. Trump. Late in the campaign, Mr. Herbster was accused of groping several women. He denied the accusations.And another loss in IdahoGov. Brad Little overcame Mr. Trump’s endorsement of the state’s lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin, who was challenging him in the Republican primary.A victory in West VirginiaRepresentative Alex Mooney prevailed over Representative David McKinley in a newly drawn congressional district. Mr. Trump’s backing was seen as the decisive factor.Alyce McFadden More

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    How Some Parents Changed Their Politics in the Pandemic

    ORINDA, Calif. — They waved signs that read “Defeat the mandates” and “No vaccines.” They chanted “Protect our kids” and “Our kids, our choice.”Almost everyone in the crowd of more than three dozen was a parent. And as they protested on a recent Friday in the Bay Area suburb of Orinda, Calif., they had the same refrain: They were there for their children.Most had never been to a political rally before. But after seeing their children isolated and despondent early in the coronavirus pandemic, they despaired, they said. On Facebook, they found other worried parents who sympathized with them. They shared notes and online articles — many of them misleading — about the reopening of schools and the efficacy of vaccines and masks. Soon, those issues crowded out other concerns.“I wish I’d woken up to this cause sooner,” said one protester, Lisa Longnecker, 54, who has a 17-year-old son. “But I can’t think of a single more important issue. It’s going to decide how I vote.”Ms. Longnecker and her fellow objectors are part of a potentially destabilizing new movement: parents who joined the anti-vaccine and anti-mask cause during the pandemic, narrowing their political beliefs to a single-minded obsession over those issues. Their thinking hardened even as Covid-19 restrictions and mandates were eased and lifted, cementing in some cases into a skepticism of all vaccines.Nearly half of Americans oppose masking and a similar share is against vaccine mandates for schoolchildren, polls show. But what is obscured in those numbers is the intensity with which some parents have embraced these views. While they once described themselves as Republicans or Democrats, they now identify as independents who plan to vote based solely on vaccine policies.Their transformation injects an unpredictable element into November’s midterm elections. Fueled by a sense of righteousness after Covid vaccine and mask mandates ended, many of these parents have become increasingly dogmatic, convinced that unless they act, new mandates will be passed after the midterms.To back up their beliefs, some have organized rallies and disrupted local school board meetings. Others are raising money for anti-mask and anti-vaccine candidates like J.D. Vance, the Republican nominee for Senate in Ohio; Reinette Senum, an independent running for governor in California; and Rob Astorino, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York.In interviews, 27 parents who called themselves anti-vaccine and anti-mask voters described strikingly similar paths to their new views. They said they had experienced alarm about their children during pandemic quarantines. They pushed to reopen schools and craved normalcy. They became angry, blaming lawmakers for the disruption to their children’s lives.Many congregated in Facebook groups that initially focused on advocating in-person schooling. Those groups soon latched onto other issues, such as anti-mask and anti-vaccine messaging. While some parents left the online groups when schools reopened, others took more extreme positions over time, burrowing into private anti-vaccine channels on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.Eventually, some began questioning vaccines for measles and other diseases, where inoculations have long been proven effective. Activists who oppose all vaccines further enticed them by joining online parent groups and posting inaccurate medical studies and falsehoods.“So many people, but especially young parents, have come to this cause in the last year,” said Janine Pera, 65, a longtime activist against all vaccines who attended the Orinda protest. “It’s been a huge gift to the movement.”The extent of activity is evident on Facebook. Since 2020, more than 200 Facebook groups aimed at reopening schools or opposing closings have been created in states including Texas, Florida and Ohio, with more than 300,000 members, according to a review by The New York Times. Another 100 anti-mask Facebook groups dedicated to ending masking in schools have also sprung up in states including New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, some with tens of thousands of members.Since the outbreak of Covid-19, many Facebook groups have sprung up opposing mask mandates.Renée DiResta, a research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory who has studied anti-vaccine activism, said the movement had indoctrinated parents into feeling “like they are part of their community, and that community supports specific candidates or policies.”Their emergence has confounded Republican and Democratic strategists, who worried they were losing voters to candidates willing to take absolute positions on vaccines and masks.“A lot of Democrats might think these voters are now unreachable, even if they voted for the party recently,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a Democratic political adviser to former President Barack Obama.Read More on Facebook and MetaA New Name: In 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would change its name to Meta, as part of a wider strategy shift toward the so-called metaverse that aims at introducing people to shared virtual worlds.Morphing Into Meta: Mr. Zuckerberg is setting a relentless pace as he leads the company into the next phase. But the pivot  is causing internal disruption and uncertainty.Zuckerberg’s No. 2: In June, Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief financing officer announced she would step down from Meta, depriving Mr. Zuckerberg of his top deputy.Tough Times Ahead: After years of financial strength, the company is now grappling with upheaval in the global economy, a blow to its advertising business and a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit.Nathan Leamer, who worked at the Federal Communications Commission during the Trump administration and is now vice president of public affairs at the firm Targeted Victory, said Republican candidates — some of whom have publicly been against Covid vaccine mandates — were better positioned to attract these voters. He pointed to last year’s surprise win in Virginia of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, after he gained the support of young parents by invoking their frustration over Covid-driven school closures.Even so, Mr. Leamer said, these parents were a wild card in November. “The truth is that we don’t really know what these voters will do,” he said.‘I Found My People’Natalya Murakhver, 50, once considered herself a Democrat who prioritized environmental and food sustainability issues. Sam James, 41, said he was a Democrat who worried about climate change. Sarah Levy, 37, was an independent who believed in social justice causes.That was before the pandemic. In 2020, when the coronavirus swept in and led to lockdowns, Ms. Murakhver’s two daughters — Violet, 5, and Clementine, 9 — climbed the walls of the family’s Manhattan apartment, complaining of boredom and crying that they missed their friends.In Chicago, Mr. James’s two toddlers developed social anxiety after their preschool shuttered, he said. Ms. Levy said her autistic 7-year-old son watched TV for hours and stopped speaking in full sentences.“We were seeing real trauma happening because programs for children were shut down,” said Ms. Levy, a stay-at-home mother in Miami.But when they posted about the fears for their children on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, they were told to stop complaining, they said. Other parents called them “selfish” and “whiny.” Alienated, they sought other like-minded parents online.Many found a community on Facebook. New groups, mostly started by parents, were rapidly appearing on the social network, with people pushing for schools to reopen. In California, 62 Facebook groups dedicated to reopening or keeping elementary schools open popped up late last year, according to a review by The Times. There were 21 such groups in Ohio and 37 in New York. Most ranged in size from under 100 members to more than 150,000.Facebook, which is owned by Meta, declined to comment.The company has removed groups that spread misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines.“We couldn’t stand by and watch our children suffer without their friends and teachers,” said Natalya Murakhver, a mother of two.Marko Dukic for The New York TimesMs. Murakhver joined some Facebook groups and became particularly active in one called “Keep NYC Schools Open,” which petitioned the city to open schools and keep them open through Covid surges. Last year, she became a group administrator, helping to admit new members and moderating discussions. The group swelled to 2,500 members.“We had the same cause to rally behind,” Ms. Murakhver said. “We couldn’t stand by and watch our children suffer without their friends and teachers.”In Chicago, Mr. James joined two Facebook groups pushing Chicago schools to reopen. In Miami, Ms. Levy jumped into national Facebook groups and discussed how to force the federal government to mandate that schools everywhere reopen.“I found my people,” Ms. Levy said. While she had been an independent, she said she found common ground with Republicans “who understood that for us, worse than the virus, was having our kid trapped at home and out of school.”Into the Online Rabbit HoleThe Facebook groups were just the beginning of an online journey that took some parents from more mainstream views of reopening schools toward a single-issue position.In Chico, Calif., Kim Snyder, 36, who has a 7-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, said she was a longtime Republican. After her children had to stay home in the pandemic, she helped create a Facebook group in 2020 for Chico parents committed to reopening schools full-time.At the time, her local schools had partially reopened and children were learning both online and in-person, Ms. Snyder said. But frustration over hybrid learning was mounting, and schools were repeatedly shut down when Covid surged.By mid-2021, Ms. Snyder’s Facebook group had splintered. Some parents were satisfied with the safety measures and hybrid learning and stopped participating in online discussions, she said. Others were angry that they had not returned to a prepandemic way of living.Protesters demanded the removal of the indoor mask mandate for the Los Angeles Unified School District in March.Caroline Brehman/EPA, via ShutterstockMs. Snyder counted herself in the latter category. She channeled her discontent by attending in-person protests against mask requirements at public schools. At the rallies, she met activists who opposed all types of vaccines. She invited some to join her Facebook group, she said, “because we were all fighting for the same thing. We wanted a return to normalcy.”The focus of her Facebook group soon morphed from reopening schools to standing against masks in schools. By late last year, more content decrying every vaccine had also started appearing in the Facebook group.“I started to read more about how masks and vaccines were causing all this damage to our kids,” Ms. Snyder said.Scientific advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccine shots are considered safe for young children. But Ms. Snyder said she became convinced they were wrong. She browsed other Facebook groups too, to meet more parents with similar beliefs.Activists posted statistics about Covid vaccines in those Facebook groups. Often that information came from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a database maintained by the C.D.C. and the Food and Drug Administration, which allows anyone to submit data. The C.D.C. has warned that the database “cannot prove that a vaccine caused a problem.”Yet in a September 2021 post in Ms. Snyder’s Facebook group, parents pointed to VAERS figures that they said showed thousands of vaccine-induced deaths.“This is absolutely dangerous!” one parent wrote. “This hasn’t been really tested and is NOT NECESSARY….OMG!”Another post titled “If you want to really know what is going on, read this” linked to an article that falsely claimed vaccines could leave children sterile. The article was originally posted to a Facebook group named Children’s Health Defense, which supports an organization founded and chaired by the anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.That tipped some parents into repudiating every vaccine, from chickenpox to hepatitis, and against vaccine mandates of any kind. A right to self-determination so that parents could decide what vaccines their children took was paramount.“For the first time, I began to look at the statistics and questioned whether all the vaccines I had previously given my kids made sense,” Ms. Snyder said.Soon she joined explicitly anti-vaccine Facebook groups that activists linked to, including ones supporting Children’s Health Defense. In those forums, parents seethed at the authorities, arguing they had no right to tell them what to do with their children’s bodies. Activists posted other links to Twitter and Telegram and urged parents to join them there, warning that Facebook often removed their content for misinformation.One link led to a Telegram channel run by Denise Aguilar, an anti-vaccine activist in Stockton, Calif. Ms. Aguilar, who speaks about her experiences as a mother on social media and on conservative podcasts, also runs a survivalist organization called Mamalitia, a self-described mom militia. She has more than 100,000 followers across her TikTok and Telegram channels.Early in the pandemic, Ms. Aguilar posted conspiracy theories about the coronavirus’s origins and questioned the effectiveness of masking. Now her messaging has changed to focus on political activism for the midterms. Denise Aguilar, right, an anti-vaccine activist, joined other activists in blocking the door to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office in Sacramento in September 2019.Rich Pedroncelli/Associated PressIn June, Ms. Aguilar encouraged her Telegram followers to vote for Carlos Villapudua, a Democrat running for California State Assembly who voted against a bill that would let children aged 12 and older get vaccinated without parental consent.“Patriots unite!” wrote Ms. Aguilar, who didn’t respond to a request for comment. “We need to support freedom loving Americans.”From Talk to ActionBy late last year, the talk among parent groups on Facebook, Telegram and Instagram had shifted from vaccine dangers to taking action in the midterms.Ms. Snyder said her involvement against vaccines would “100 percent determine” whom she voted for in November. She said she was disappointed in Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a Democrat who encouraged masking and promoted the coronavirus vaccines.In New York, Ms. Murakhaver, who previously supported candidates who favored strong environmental protection laws, said she would vote based solely on a candidate’s position on mandates on all children’s vaccines.The Facebook group she helped operate, Keep NYC Schools Open, has shut down. But Ms. Murakhaver remains close with activists she met through the group, chatting with them on Signal and WhatsApp. While her children were vaccinated against measles and other diseases when they were babies, she now opposes any mandate that would force other parents to inoculate their children.“I’m a single-issue voter now, and I can’t see myself supporting Democratic Party candidates unless they show they fought to keep our kids in school and let parents make decisions about masks and vaccines,” she said, adding that she prefers Mr. Astorino for New York governor over the Democratic incumbent, Kathy Hochul.While states including California have deferred bills requiring Covid-19 vaccines for students attending public schools, many parents said they worried the mandates would be passed after the midterms.“If we don’t show up and vote, these bills could come back in the future,” Ms. Snyder said.A “Defeat the Mandate” rally in April to protest vaccine mandates.Damian Dovarganes/Associated PressAt the Orinda demonstration in April, more than 50 people gathered outside the office of Steve Glazer, a Democratic state senator to oppose coronavirus vaccine mandates.One was Jessica Barsotti, 56, who has two teenagers and was at her first rally. Previously a Democrat, Ms. Barsotti said elected officials had let her family down during the pandemic and planned to cast her ballot in November for candidates who were against vaccine mandates.“If that is Republicans so be it. If it is independents, fine,” she said. “I’m not looking at their party affiliation but how they fall on this one issue. It’s changed me as a person and as a voter.” More